Aaaah, one of the things I really miss in London is a good bowl of ramen. Now that we've got a brilliant udon-ya for keeps, the next big thing will hopefully be ramen. Unlike in the States, we only have a couple of restaurants offering old school ramen which are alright. But considering there is a ramen boom sweeping across Japan, I'm just surprised it hasn't hit London yet. I mean, I would have expected ramen to be more popular than udon outside Japan.
So I was over the moon to find out that Tsuru Sushi is running a series of monthly ramen events in preparation to them opening Tsuru Ramen. So I went and got some tickets for the first event for me, my sis and my brother-in-law, since we were always going on about ramen and would be checking it over with critical eyes. Plus it was my birthday and who doesn't want to eat ramen on their birthday?
Tsuru Sushi serves general Japanese food and its three branches are situated close to and within the City of London, the financial district of London. Although I haven't had their regular menu, I've heard good things about their katsu curry and sushi.
And check out the giant paper cranes or tsuru that are hanging from the ceiling. Nice idea for home.
This was the first food/pop-up event we've been to so we were really excited about it and wondering what kind of people came to these events. We were expecting a lot more Japanese people but there were only a few. But there were a lot of trendy people who seemed serious about noodles.
For this event, called Tsuru Ramen Ichiban, I ordered shoyu. The ramen would be the classic noodle with a soy or shoyu-based broth prepared from chicken, pork, fish and vegetable stock simmered for over 15 hours. An interesting point about the ramen is that it's free of MSG. I'm not sure whether I've ever had ramen without MSG before...
While we waited for our ramen, we prepared ourselves with a welcoming pint of Asahi on tap which was cold and hit the spot.
And some house-made pork gyoza.
They are one of the bestsellers in this restaurant and I'm not surprised because they were juicy, full of flavour and perfectly cooked.
They were SO good that between the three of us, we scoffed FIVE plates. Oh yes. We go all out when it comes to food. My sister and I often used to complain when we lived in Japan that we never had enough gyoza with our ramen. One plate is never enough, right?
Then the other people in the restaurant began to get their bowls and we waited in anticipation until ours arrived.
It came with the usual accompaniments of chashu pork, marinated egg (or ajitsuke tamago) which was creamy and perfect, wakame (seaweed) instead of nori, menma (bamboo) and some negi (chopped spring onion) on top.
The noodles were standard ramen noodles and tasted fine. I'm not sure whether they make their own, although it didn't seem like it. The chashu and the tamago were lovely and complimented the noodles. However, the shoyu broth was pretty heavy on the fish flavors, which isn't particularly my favourite, but both my sister and brother-in-law really liked it. I think we were just happy to be slurping proper ramen in London.
Tsuru Ramen will be doing other pop up events with different broths from tonkotsu to spicy Tokyo to Hokkaido-style before going to Japan on a research trip to decide how and what they want their ramen to be. I hope they get to visit Nagoya and try out my favourite, the Taiwan ramen, a super spicy ramen made with lots of chilli, garlic and minced pork in a red hot soup, which apparently you can only get there.
We all really enjoyed the event and won't mind going to more, and we will be looking forward to what kind of ramen-ya materialises. But as long as they keep their gyoza recipe as is, I'm happy.